Objection Against Trustee Candidate 'Not Specific,' Attorney Claims
Attorney seeks to dismiss objector's petition charging that a village board candidate violated state election laws when filing his nominating papers.
Vague accusations and a typo are at the center of a motion to dismiss an objection filed by a Walgreen’s store associate to get a village board trustee candidate’s name tossed off the ballot in the April election.
Dan Sodaro is running for the 3rd District seat on the Oak Lawn Village Board against long-time trustee Bob Streit. Sodaro is a twice-elected board member of Ridgeland Dist. 122 and the board's current president.
Last month, Streit’s friend Andy Skoundrianos filed an objection claiming Sodaro violated “numerous laws” while collecting signatures for his nominating petitions.
“I called Bob and told him that the petitions don’t look good to me,” Skoundrianos explained, who said he has attended village board meetings for over 20 years. “I was part of a petition challenge with (a mayoral candidate) in 2005. I don’t want anybody off the ballot, but if it’s that egregious I can’t let this perjury go.”
The Oak Lawn Village electoral board met on Jan. 4 to review Skoundrianos’s objection and scheduled another hearing for later this week after Keri Lyn Krafthefer, Sodaro’s attorney, indicated she would be filing a motion to dismiss.
After last week’s hearing, Streit said he had overwhelming evidence that different people circulated Sodaro’s petitions other than the three circulators whose names appear on the notarized sheets: Sodaro, his wife Dawn and friend Lynn Craig.
Krafthefer counters that charges Sodaro violated state election laws are too vague and don’t specifically state what laws Sodaro and his volunteers allegedly broke when circulating his petitions.
“(The objector) doesn’t provide us with statutes and cases that Dan supposedly violated,” Krafthefer said. “If you’re going to be charged with a crime you have a right to know what it is you did wrong.”
The motion to dismiss also cites an error that appears in the final paragraph of Skoundrianos’s objection, which names the elected office sought by Sodaro as “Judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County.” Sodaro is running for the 3rd District Village Trustee. Such mistakes cannot be amended or corrected in an objector’s petition according to Illinois election laws, the motion states.
“If you don’t get it right at the end of the petition, it’s just as if the candidate put the wrong name on his papers,” she said.
Dennis Brennan, who filed the objection on Skoundrianos’s behalf, called the error a typo.
“There’s case law that if you do that it doesn’t matter,” Brennan said. “We would have liked to have it correct but you’re under such time constraints. Sometimes things are typed on other petitions.”
Brennan said he was prepared to call 20 people to testify before the village electoral board that they signed Sodaro’s petitions for individuals other than the circulators.
“It’s pretty clear on the face of the document that we’re asking for the petitions to be invalidated,” Brennan said. “This is the worst case of election fraud in the history of Oak Lawn.”
Krafthefer said the motion to dismiss is not based on technicalities, but rather go to the heart of the electoral process.
“You can’t file an objection to a petition when you didn’t follow the rules,” she said. “How can we put on a trial not knowing specific charges? I feel like I’m defending against a phantom charge.”
The next village electoral board is hearing is scheduled for 9 a.m. Friday, Jan. 14, at Oak Lawn Village Hall, 9422 S. Raymond.
Hearing the motion to dismiss are Mayor Dave Heilmann, who is chairing the electoral board, Village Clerk Jane Quinlan, and 1st District Trustee Jerry Hurckes. Streit is precluded from serving on the electoral board as the most senior trustee because the objection involves his race.